Title: Christmas 2021
Scripture: Nehemiah 8:9
1The word holiday comes from the Old English word haligdaeg, which means “holy day”.
So, when Nehemiah announced, “This day is holy,” he was declaring a celebration; a time to “eat and drink before the Lord” (1 Chronicles 29:22).
Today overindulgence and overspending have become synonymous with Christmas, making Christian hesitant to celebrate.
Jack Hayford writes: “Often it is from those newly associated with our fellowship who have allowed themselves – perhaps for the first time – to enter the wonder and fullness of Christmas joy and celebration… Christmas is more than merely ‘merry.’
Christmas is mighty.
Celebration – unfettered enjoyment, love…laughter… gifts and giving, trees and tinsel…carols and bells … all of it – has in inherent potential for mightiness.
The qualifying factor is the presence of the Holy Spirit.
When He is absent, carols ring hollow.
Greetings, wishes and smiles lie on the surface, like glitter glued on a flat card.
Lights and decorations…can leave the heart more desolate than ever.
But where the Holy Spirit is there is power… to change entrenched habits…transform cold hearts…grudges and expectations… life lives out of the shadow…
This Christmas, let Him come to you.
Welcome the… Holy Spirit… to move upon your life, and then make your own move… into the seasons best opportunities to bask in the wonder of all… Reach out to those around: encourage, bless, bake, give, visit, invite, share, and lift hearts wherever you can.
By… New Year…you’ll find Christmas to… have been marvelously, and even miraculously mighty.”
So, why did I choose Nehemiah today for my sermon? It too was a time of celebration called The Feast of Tabernacles that gives a look into how celebration took place in biblical times.
Let’s get started getting into the Word…we find in Nehemiah 8:13-18 that…
13 Then on the second day of the month, [a] the leaders of all the families went to meet with Ezra, the priests, and the Levites. They all gathered around Ezra the teacher to study the words of the law.
14-15 They studied and found these commands in the law. The Lord gave this command to the people through Moses: In the seventh month of the year, the Israelites must go to Jerusalem to celebrate a special festival. They must live in temporary shelters. And the people are supposed to go through all of their towns and Jerusalem and say this: “Go out into the hill country and get branches from different kinds of olive trees. Get branches from myrtle trees, palm trees, and shade trees. Use the branches to make temporary shelters. Do what the law says.”
16 So the people went out and got tree branches. Then they built temporary shelters for themselves. They built shelters on their own roofs and in their own yards. And they built shelters in the Temple yard, in the open place near the Water Gate, and near Ephraim Gate. 17 The whole group that had come back from captivity-built shelters. They lived in the shelters they had built. Since the days of Joshua’s son of Nun up until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated the Festival of Shelters like this. Everyone was very happy!
Think of the joys you experienced this Christmas… and the best part is that God’s presence was with you the entire time.
You see, during the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, the people lived in shelters (booths) (Jonah 3:7) made of branches. (Hosea 12:9)
This practice was instituted as a reminder of their rescue from Egypt and the time spent in shelters in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:43).
Take a moment and think about how many times you have been rescued from something in your life… What were those things? How did God aid you in getting beyond these times through his coming to your rescue either through a person or something that happened?
They were to think about God’s protection and guidance during their years of wandering and the fact that God would still protect and guide them if they obeyed Him.
This was a time to remember their origins.
It is helpful to remember our beginnings in order to appreciate where we are today.
If it were not for Jesus being born in Bethlehem on that cold night, just imagine where your life would be today without His love for you.
Think back on your life to see where God has led you.
What things do you need to change in this upcoming year? Where you do you want your life to go and what is it going to take in order to get there?
Start seeking God in prayer and asking Him to help you achieve whatever needs to be done to accomplish your goals and dreams.
Then thank God for His continuing work to protect you and provide for your needs.
18 Ezra read to them from the cof the Law every day of the festival from the first day of the festival to the last day. The Israelites celebrated the festival for seven days. Then on the eighth day, the people met together for a special meeting, as the law says.